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Major Series: 2013

Major Series: 2013

How to Talk Through Your Hat. This series of posts from early 2013 evolved from my encounter with the manifesto-cum-instruction-manual How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard (2007), in which, as I wrote, “the author argues in favor of a spirited discourse about literature untrammelled by antiquated notions of any pesky obligation to actually read the books under consideration.” My analysis of Bayard’s argument led me to conclude that his project in this treatise constitutes “an energetic advocacy of [what we once called] talking through one’s hat.” Or, to put it more bluntly, bullshitting.

That took me, inevitably, into considering the corollary for the visual arts, “How to Talk about Pictures You Haven’t Seen.” This led to pondering present-day “artspeak,” its sources and its consequences.

There Will Be Ink: Digital Libraries. This series of posts from mid-2013 sprang from the opening of my substantially reconfigured local branch of the New York Public Library, whose makeover transformed it from archetypal neighborhood print-centric space to fully wired media environment, with all the pros and cons thereof. That led me to weighing the benefits against the losses resulting from the ongoing transition from printed to digital formats for books, periodicals, and other textual and visual materials.

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